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The CW CEO Mark Pedowitz will be the first to tell you that Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki were the secret to the success of former network juggernaut Supernatural. Now, he’s hoping that one of them — Ackles — will help reinvigorate the recently concluded franchise with a prequel series as The CW makes its third attempt to launch an offshoot from the 15-season hit.
Ackles and his wife/producing partner and former Supernatural actress Danneel Ackles are developing The Winchesters, a prequel series to the former genre drama. The network has handed out a script commitment to the drama, which hails from Supernatural writer Robbie Thompson.
Here’s the concept: Before Sam (Padalecki) and Dean, there was John and Mary. Told from the perspective of narrator Dean Winchester (Ackles), The Winchesters is the epic, untold love story of how John met Mary and how they put it all on the line to not only save their love, but the entire world. The characters of John and Mary Winchester were originally played on the flagship by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Samantha Smith.
The potential series hails from Supernatural producers Warner Bros. TV, where the Ackles and their Chaos Machine banner are housed with an overall deal.
The Winchesters is the third attempt at The CW to launch a spinoff out of Supernatural. Pedowitz and The CW attempted in 2014 to launch a spinoff, Bloodlines, that “just didn’t quite get there” creatively, Pedowitz admitted. At the time, broadcast’s longest-tenured network topper said he would attempt again but Bloodlines — which aired as a backdoor pilot and introduced a crop of new characters, led by Lucien Laviscount, Sean Faris and Nathaniel Buzolic — stalled.
The CW tried again in 2017-18 with Wayward Sisters, another backdoor pilot that revolved around the Supernatural favorite Kim Rhodes’ Sheriff Jody Mills and a group of troubled young women, all of them orphaned by supernatural tragedy. Briana Buckmaster, Katherine Ramdeen and Kathryn Love Newton starred in the spinoff that, yup, also never moved forward.
After two previous attempts, Pedowitz conceded that he likely was done trying to launch a spinoff and attributed the show’s success to Padalecki and Ackles and their chemistry over 15 seasons. The show’s impressive longevity had become a joke of sorts among the press and Pedowitz, who once opened his time before the Television Critics Association press corps with deadpan: “Now that Supernatural has been picked up, are there any other questions?”
Before wrapping the series, the exec was frequently asked about how long it would run and always responded that it would go on as long as “the guys want to do it.”
“It’s really that simple. They have created something of these two brothers we’ve had these discussions that actually transcends anything,” Pedowitz said in early 2019. “… [I]f I could find a way that it stays the whole time on and it still holds up and the studio can still figure out how to do it, we’re all in.”
Time will tell if the third time is truly the charm and if The Winchesters can stand on its own without having the flagship series to launch it as a backdoor pilot.
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